Theodore J. Flicker, the co-creator of the Emmy-winning sitcom Barney Miller, died last night in his sleep in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was 84. It was confirmed by his nephew, director Jonathan M. Flicker today.
Known for its deadpan comedy banter and one act play-like structure, Barney Miller, which Flicker co-owned, took place in a fictional 12th precinct Greenwich Village police station, with the action largely occurring between two sets: the detective’s squad room and Captain Barney’s Miller’s office. The series grew out of an unsold TV pilot that Flicker wrote titled The Life and Times of Captain Barney Miller, that aired on August 22, 1974 as part of an ABC summer anthology series Just for Laughs. Barney Miller ran from 1975 to 1982 on ABC and finally won an outstanding comedy series Emmy during its final season on the air. Brooklyn Nine-Nine co-creators Michael Schur and Dan Goor have cited Barney Miller in several interviews as a big inspiration for their Fox comedy series, which is going into its second season. Flicker’s creative partner on Barney Miller, Danny Arnold, died at the age of 70 on Aug. 19, 1995.
Born in Freehold Borough, New Jersey on June 6, 1930, Flicker attended the Admiral Farragut Academy in Tom’s River, New Jersey from 1947-49, before studying at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts alongside such notables as Joan Collins and Larry Hagman. During the early ’50s, Flicker was one of the early members of the improv comedy troupe, Chicago’s Compass Players, where he performed alongside Elaine May. By the end of the decade, Flicker wrote the book and directed the Broadway “beat”musical The Nervous Set.
Prior to a big career in TV as both a director and a writer, Flicker helmed and co-wrote the film The Troublemaker in 1964, followed by his 1967 political satire The President’s Analyst starring James Coburn which earned him a WGA nomination for best original screenplay. As a TV writer and director he was involved with episodes of The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Andy Griffith Show, The Man From U.N.C.L.E. and The Streets of San Francisco. Flicker also had the occasional acting gig in 1971’s Night Gallery, 1972’s Beware! The Blob, and as Buffalo Bill Cody in The Legend of the Lone Ranger.
Flicker retired from film and TV and for the last 20 years has worked as a sculptor in Santa Fe. He wrote extensively on expressionism and penned the epic novel The Good American, about a Jewish boy during the 19th century, who conceals his identity while working for a German general, ultimately making his way onto the Civil War battlefield.